At this time in our country great debates are taking place as
different senators and other politicians try to look for what
they call a just immigration reform. People have different ideas
about how to treat “foreigners.” Many question their
rights or lack of them. Today, our Scriptures help us turn toward
the foreigner or the outsider. Certainly the first reading and
the Gospel turn our attention upon the salvation and faith of
the “foreigner” or the outsider, the one who lives
on the fringe, the edge of society. Scriptures help us turn toward
the forgotten man or woman, the one who is hopeless, the outcast
and the no-person.
Today we have a Samaritan leper! While lepers were rejected by
“normal” people in society, Samaritans would have
been despised even by other lepers…… But maybe this
isolation helped this Samaritan leper to go deeper within himself
to find a great sense of gratefulness for what was done to him,
something the others were not able to do.
But who are the foreigners among us? Who are those we don’t
even acknowledge as human beings? Who are the ones who are living
in the fringe of society or the ones who have been pushed sometimes
by us to live with less dignity?
As Christians, we are called to serve one another. This is a basic
commandment. We are called to serve all peoples as Jesus did,
no matter if they are documented or undocumented, foreigners or
locals…… we are called to serve and love all peoples,
especially the anawim, the poor and the foreigner in our midst
and we are called to be people of forgiveness, people of reconciliation,
people who do not ask for documents before we give a hand to someone
in need. The Gospel once again is radical and calls us to live
in a radical manner.
Most of us take things for granted because most of us have become
complacent. Maybe we need to learn from the leper……
we need to learn how to be grateful…… how to have
a grateful heart. Usually the grateful person does not take anything
for granted. They have an openness to see what is being done for
them. They can discover and see what most of us overlook: the
things that very often are simple, the things we take for granted.
The leper came back “glorifying God in a loud voice, and
he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him” and Naaman
declared that his cure showed that “there is no God in all
the earth, except in Israel.” These foreigners challenge
us to move beyond ourselves and think as Jesus thinks, they challenge
us to put on the mind of Christ.
Who is the stranger among us? Who is the one we call “foreigner?”
Perhaps we are afraid to answer these questions because once we
locate this man or woman or child, we will have to act differently.
They will place demands upon us and call us to be Christ-like.
They will upset our neat schedules, and our consciences will be
disturbed, they will require our attention and more than that……
they will require our love. They may even bring us to shame. They
may even help us to be grateful for what we have and challenge
us to treat them with the dignity of a child of God.
As we gather around this Table of Plenty, may we recognize that
our Lord was also a stranger in a strange land. May we continue
building up the City of God here and today. May the bread we break
and cup we share, remind us that we need to be grateful for what
we have and give praise and thanks to a God who calls us to recognize
and welcome the stranger among us.